Oct 30, 2013

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The Benefits of Unschooling

The Benefits of Unschooling

Imagine with me, if you will, a spectrum of homeschoolers. On one side (one extreme), we have those whose goal is to recreate the classroom in the home, using lots of curriculum and testing. On the other side, we have what are known as Radical Unschoolers – those who allow full freedom of creativity, learning and expression in their home, using no curriculum or forced learning.

I would say our family’s style falls somewhere in the middle. Nonetheless, I am very interested in unschooling becoming a bigger part of the education conversation, which is why I enjoyed this article very much. It is entitled, The Benefits of Unschooling: Report 1 from a survey of 231 families, written by Peter Gray. A great place to start for those just beginning to question our current educational paradigm, as well as those who have been questioning for a while!

Here are some of my favorite parts:

I defined unschooling simply as not schooling. I elaborated by saying: “Unschoolers do not send their children to school and they do not do at home the kinds of things that are done at school. More specifically, they do not establish a curriculum for their children, they do not require their children to do particular assignments for the purpose of education, and they do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their children freedom to pursue their own interests and to learn, in their own ways, what they need to know to follow those interests. They also, in various ways, provide an environmental context and environmental support for the child’s learning. Life and learning do not occur in a vacuum; they occur in the context of a cultural environment, and unschooling parents help define and bring the child into contact with that environment.”


They said that their children were learning more, or learning more efficiently, or learning more relevant material, or learning more eagerly in the unschooling situation than they would if they were in school or being schooled at home


They said that their children were happier, less stressed, more self-confident, more agreeable, or more socially outgoing than they would be if they were in school or being schooled at home. Many in this category referred to the social advantages; their children interacted regularly with people of all ages in the community, not just with kids their own age as they would if they were in school.


From a respondent: “Oh my, the benefits are enormous. … Lifelong curiosity, family closeness, extraordinary success as my children step into academia and careers, and the empowerment that comes with being oneself in a world relentlessly telling us that we’re only what we look like or own. I see it every weekend when my college kids are home and my research biologist daughter is back from work. They sit at the table long after dinner is over, talking about their admittedly esoteric interests and bantering as only those who love each other do. Then, even as adults, they push away from the table to go work on a project together, something that has bonded them for years. As the day stretches out they finally gather on the porch, reluctant to part, still conversing and planning and laughing. I can’t imagine greater riches.”


Personally, I can’t imagine our life with public school, set schedules, and curriculum. Our life is learning, and learning is our life. It is so nice to see more and more families feel comfortable enough to share their experiences of this way of life with a greater audience!

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